A recent stint on a comedy TV show has given a costume degree student from Cleveland College of Art and Design (CCAD) a real life experience of working on set and proved to be an inspiration to develop a career in the industry.
21-year-old Alys Church, a BA (Hons) Costume Interpretation with Design student from Carterton in Oxfordshire, is currently on the final year of her degree at the specialist northern arts school, and spent a week assisting on the production of BBC One’s Hospital People show during filming in Hartlepool.
The hit TV show, made by London-based production company Roughcut TV, ran its first series in 2016. The second series saw the show on location at the University Hospital of Hartlepool, and features appearances from Russell Brand and Mark Williams from the Harry Potter films and The Fast Show.
Alys, who is currently living in Hartlepool during her studies, worked with the Hospital People team on wardrobe duties for five full days, with all the excitement and deadlines that live filming brings. She said: “The days were very long, with the longest stretching a total of 13 hours but it was an amazing experience. I was there the first night they arrived with all of their costumes so initially I helped them set up. We then worked to organise the wardrobe for both the main cast and the supporting actors on the first couple of days.
“During filming we worked to prep actors’ trailers with their costumes and collect them at the end of the day, re-organising for the next day’s filming. I did some alterations work for a particularly petite member of the cast and even got the opportunity to shadow one of the costume staff on set to see how the whole thing worked behind camera.”
The final year student, who is currently working on the final major project and preparing for the degree show at the university-level campus, gained invaluable experience in working with wardrobe artists and even met a star or two!
She continued: “The highlight for me was definitely being able to sit on set and see all of the elements involved. In all of my other work placements I had never experienced something like this, and although it was very overwhelming, it was so interesting and gave real insight into what it was like to work on a TV set with these teams from all areas of the production.
“I actually cleared the trailer of Mark Williams who plays Arthur Weasley in the Harry Potter films, as he was packing up for the day. Initially I recognised him but couldn’t place who he was or how I knew him, he was very friendly and polite. It wasn’t until I returned to the costume truck that the rest of the staff confirmed who he was for me. Although I had a ‘moment’, I’m glad I chose to be professional despite recognising him instead of losing my cool!
“It was unfortunate I was unable to work with the Hospital People team for longer due to the impending pressure of my final major project, but the long days made it impossible to work on both at the same time,” she said.
For her final major project, Alys is taking a step back in time to 18th Century Russia, focussing on Elizabeth of Russia and her lover Alexei Razumovsky. She is currently creating costumes for them both as if they were attending an imperial ball in Elizabeth’s court, focussing on achieving the upmost historical accuracy with the consideration of cost and time restrictions.
Alys added: “I’m very excited about the upcoming degree show in June. It’s an opportunity to really show off what we’ve all learned in our three years at the university and prove our skill sets. I’m also really looking forward to seeing my own and my classmates finished costumes. We’ve all put a great deal of work and effort into the design and construction of them and it’ll be amazing to see the finished pieces, not only this but getting to see the work of the other courses.
“Preparations are of course full speed ahead, with time moving on incredibly quickly everyone is working hard to get everything finished to put on the best degree show possible and produce work that best displays our merits as artists.”
Alys developed invaluable contacts working with the costume department and is hoping to gain further experience should they need extra hands on other projects. Following graduation, she would eventually like to work in films but now knows how diverse the industry is and so is excited to see where it takes her.
Jane Havakin, Programme Leader for BA (Hons) Costume Interpretation with Design at CCAD, said: “It was a great experience for our students to work with such a prestigious productions company like Roughcut TV. All the staff were really friendly and our students gained so much from the experience as well as some great contacts for their future careers.”
CCAD Degree Show will be taking place from Friday 2nd June until Saturday 10th June.